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Fox earned a 10.5 overnight rating for the Red Sox’ win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series, essentially flat with last year’s series-clinching Giants-Cardinals Game 4. Both games aired up against NBC “SNF” telecasts. The 10.5 rating is the best for any ’13 World Series game thus far. The last non-clinching Game 4, a Cardinals-Rangers game in '11, drew a 10.1 overnight, while Game 4 in ’10 (Giants-Rangers) drew a 10.4 overnight. Red Sox-Cardinals Game 4 had a lead-in from Fox' NFL national window (17.5 rating), which featured Redskins-Broncos. Last year's Game 4 had a lead-in from a national window featuring Giants-Cowboys (18.8 rating). Game 4 last night drew a 46.7 local rating in St. Louis and a 34.7 rating in Boston. Through four games, Fox is averaging a 9.5 overnight rating, up 7% from an 8.9 rating for the Giants’ sweep (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
PICKED OFF: Blogger Ed Sherman writes Fox for years “has been criticized for its quick-cut players/fan reaction shots between pitches,” and the technique “came back to bite the network” last night as it missed the final play of the game, a pick-off at first base. Fox “lingered a bit too long” on a crowd shot, and “all of the sudden, Joe Buck yelled out and there was a quick shot of Mike Napoli applying the tag to Kolten Wong from a terrible camera angle.” Viewers “never saw Koji Uehara turn and make the throw for the dramatic pick-off.” However, the “reality is that all the networks show player/manager/fan reaction shots between pitches,” so what happened to Fox “could have happened to any of them” (SHERMANREPORT.com, 10/28). The L.A. Daily News' Tom Hoffarth wrote, "Fox cameras too busy watching crowd reaction got picked off by the game-ending pickoff #karma." The San Diego Union-Tribune's Jay Posner wrote, "That serves Fox right ... one too many useless crowd shots and they missed the walk-off pickoff." The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami wrote, "Fox was caught leaning, too." Deadspin's Timothy Burke wrote, "In Fox's defense, the international feed missed the pickoff too. It was zoomed in on Uehara's face & didn't change cams until after the play."
TRIPPED UP: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted MLB Network, following the controversial ending to Game 3, "inexplicably did not air the MLB umpires press conference live," while ESPNews "aired most of it." MLB Net "did eventually show some clips from the news conference -- and did have a live, on-set softball interview" with Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre, which was "a nice get -- but what a missed opportunity." Deitsch: "If you are selling yourself as the baseball network of record ... how can you not show a press conference involving one of the most controversial calls in baseball history live and in its entirety?" (SI.com, 10/27). In Tampa, Tom Jones notes MLB Net's host Greg Amsinger and analysts Harold Reynolds and Kevin Millar "practically tripped over themselves supporting the call" during the Torre interview. Jones: "Now, certainly, if the three thought it was a good call, that's fine." But that is "not their role while Torre is on the set." Their role is "to push, prod and challenge Torre." Their role is to "think like the viewers and ask any and all questions, not to act like shills for MLB." This was "one of the biggest moments in baseball history." That is "not an overstatement." These three "failed miserably to do their jobs" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/28). "Fox NFL Sunday" broke away from football coverage just ten minutes into yesterday's show, as Ken Rosenthal interviewed Torre and World Series crew chief umpire John Hirschbeck (THE DAILY).
LATE TO THE PARTY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote MLB’s "TV money addiction has left the World Series devalued." Consider that yesterday's Game 4 was scheduled for 8:15pm -- "even later than ESPN’s absurd regular season Sunday night starts." It was the "latest scheduled start of any of this year’s World Series games." The game started at that time because Fox "first had to clear its NFL games that begin at 4:25" (N.Y. POST, 10/27). Mushnick, regarding Game 3's finish, wrote under the header, "Fantastic Series Game Finish Too Late For Many To See" (N.Y. POST, 10/28). In Raleigh, Barry Saunders writes under the header, "Start The World Series Games Earlier." The "biggest fix that needs to be made" to the World Series "is the starting time of games." With games "beginning at 8 p.m., some are not over until after midnight." Saunders: "How are you going to cultivate younger fans ... if many of them are already in dreamland by the time it ends?" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/28).
WEATHER WARNING: SI.com's Deitsch noted with kickoff for Texas Tech-Oklahoma on Saturday "delayed for one hour 15 minutes because of concern that lightning in the area could reach the stadium, Fox's college football coverage ... eventually finished on the Fox News Channel because of the network's commitment to the World Series." Deitsch: "Why opt for Fox News Channel instead of FXX?" Fox Sports PR said that it made the decision "because of the channel reach: Fox News Channel is in 97 million households while FXX is in 72 million" (SI.com, 10/27).
LAST CALL: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Fox analyst Tim McCarver's departure "isn't producing a wave of verbal and written bouquets." Some critics "contend he occasionally misidentifies players, is too wordy and is not as concise with analysis as Vin Scully." One critic "noted that if you ask McCarver what time it is, he'll tell you how the watch was made." However, "few baseball broadcasters have displayed McCarver's uncanny knack for anticipating plays, particularly during the World Series." And McCarver can "display an agile memory, particularly when it comes" to the Cardinals (DENVER POST, 10/28).
NBC posted its lowest NFL regular-season overnight rating in two years for the Packers' 44-31 win over the Vikings on "SNF" last night. The game, which was NBC's lowest since Colts-Saints in Week 8 of '11, had competition from Fox' World Series Game 4. NBC is reporting the rating for the game at 10.3 overnight for the period 8:31-11:06pm ET. The full-game overnight, going until the game ended at 11:25pm, came in at a 9.9 rating. The Colts-Saints game in '11 had competition from Cardinals-Rangers World Series Game 4, as well as the absence of QB Peyton Manning. Last night’s game also is down 10% from Saints-Broncos in Week 8 last year, which had competition from the series-clinching Giants-Tigers Game 4. Packers-Vikings drew a 48.2 local rating in Milwaukee and a 41.8 rating in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The top five markets were rounded out by New Orleans (16.7), Las Vegas (14.8) and Richmond (13.4). Meanwhile, Fox led all Sunday NFL ratings with a 17.5 overnight for its national window featuring Redskins-Broncos. That figure is down from an 18.8 rating for Giants-Cowboys last season. Both games led into World Series Game 4. Fox' early regional window earned a 10.9 overnight, down 2% (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).NFL WEEK 8 SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGSNET'13 TELECASTRAT.'12 TELECASTRAT.% +/-CBS(single)10.1(single)10.2-1.0%Fox(regional)10.9(regional)11.1-1.8%FoxRedskins-Broncos (88%)17.5Giants-Cowboys (98%)18.8-6.9%NBCPackers-Vikings10.3Saints-Broncos11.4-9.6%
UNNECESSARY ELEMENTS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes the number of hours networks "devote to NFL pregame shows has increased dramatically, adding to the amount of time afforded a lame tradition -- analysts picking games." NFL execs have "no use for these 'pick' segments." In their "world no one actually places bets on football games," which is "why these prediction segments have been sanitized." Raissman notes ESPN "Sunday NFL Countdown" analyst Keyshawn Johnson picked the Jets to beat the Bengals, but the Jets lost 49-9. Fellow analyst Cris Carter said, “He is making sure he gets access (to the players and coaches) in case the Jets continue a good run when he goes to New York. He’s setting up the Jets.” Johnson "didn't disagree" with Carter's theory (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28).
LACKING ANY BITE: With the winless Jaguars playing the 49ers yesterday in London, some of the NFL pregame shows had some fun at Jacksonville's expense. NFL Network's Rich Eisen said, "Yes, we export winless teams to London. That’s how we roll in the National Football League and America.” He added, "Somebody is going to have to explain to the Londoners why some of us Americans call them the Jaguars” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 10/27). NBC's Dan Patrick, while introducing highlights of the game, said, "We begin … at London's Wembley Stadium for the first of four games over the next four years for the Jacksonville Jaguars. And London, we apologize" ("Football Night In America," NBC, 10/27). Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Berman referenced the Vikings-Steelers game in London earlier this season, where neither team had a win beforehand, and said, "The locals finally get to see an American football team that has actually won a game” ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 10/27).
NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein recently defended the league's Thursday night games, but he "also said no more Thursday games would be added," according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. There has been some "speculation that the NFL would look to create additional games, including a possible opening doubleheader." But Bornstein said of the doubleheader, "That was not anything we seriously considered." He did not rule out "taking some of those games off the NFL Network to create another package to sell to a cable or broadcast outlet," as that "would create another source of TV revenue for the league." Bornstein: "We constantly think about how to reformulate our packages to maximize them." Flint reports among the ideas Bornstein is "considering for the NFL Network is an in-season version of 'Hard Knocks.'" Meanwhile, he downplayed the fact that there have been concerns over the quality of play in Thursday games and whether having teams "play on short rest is in the best interest of player safety." Bornstein said of the package, "It’s worked out pretty nicely. The fans seem to like it, our ratings are going up" (L.A. TIMES, 10/28).
NFL NETWORK WILL HAVE GAMES: REUTERS' Grover & Baker report Bornstein stressed that the NFL "intends to reserve some live games for its own NFL Network" even if the league decides to offer a package of Thursday night games. He said, "There is no way that this channel won't have live games. It's great content, and gives us an amazing platform to expand into other areas." He acknowledged that the league has "heard from potential bidders for a possible new package of games, but would not name them." He also "would not say how many games would be included in a possible package, but said the league is unlikely to allow two games to be played on a single Thursday night" (REUTERS, 10/28).
FIRST & 10: In N.Y., Miller & Sandomir take a look at NFL Network’s 10th anniversary under the header, “NFL Network’s 10-Year Gains: 13 Games and 72 Million Homes.” Bornstein said, “We were very clear that this wasn’t for the faint of heart. The great thing is that ownership never lost patience and gave us the time to make it happen” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/28).
ESPN's "NBA Countdown" has "essentially replaced its most prominent analyst" -- Magic Johnson -- with Sage Steele, a "natural host who will serve as a traffic cop -- a role handled awkwardly" by Michael Wilbon and Jalen Rose in recent years, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The show has undergone a number of personnel changes this offseason, which is unsurprising given that if there is "one thing you can count on with the NBA on TV, it’s turnover and instability in the ABC/ESPN studio" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/27). Steele said that her role "would be a traditional host: leading conversation, asking follow-up questions and taking the show in and out of commercial breaks." SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported Steele "will remain based in Connecticut" and travel to L.A. "the day before each edition of the show." She said of landing the gig, "Countdown had not had a host for a long time and they seemed pretty set on keeping it that way. I had asked about the role in the past and I had always had interest in it but I was surprised." Steele said of whether ESPN management had promised her the role for multiple years, "I don't want to get into details on that, but in capital letters, I am not concerned about change." She said that she was "thrilled by the rehearsal chemistry when she and the new Countdown group did a mock show last Tuesday evening" at ESPN's L.A. studios (SI.com, 10/27). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes "NBA Countdown" in recent years was "just four panelists talking, and that's what made the show so interesting." The show was "just four people sitting around a desk talking hoops." It will be "interesting to see if ESPN will flip this show to a more traditional one" with Steele being the host and setting up the analysts. That "would be fine, except now it's going to turn into every pregame show on television" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/28).
BARRY RELEGATED TO RADIO? In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted ESPN is calling on analyst Jon Barry, who "has no radio experience," to replace Basketball HOFer Dr. Jack Ramsay on ESPN Radio NBA game broadcasts. Barry's TV schedule has "nearly been cut in half (he’ll do 20 games) as a result of ESPN hiring Doug Collins." Barry said, "It’s been tough for ESPN. They are scrambling. You lose a guy like (Johnson), it’s big. (The studio situation) is pretty much a revolving door. They like tweaking it every year. ... You like to find something that you stick with because it’s got to grow together. Unfortunately we didn’t have that opportunity. ... There was a realization there’s no way we were going to be TNT. We don’t have a Charles Barkley. Charles is a guy who is able to say anything and it’s funny. If I said it, I would be thrown off the air.” Barry said of the new "NBA Countdown" roster, "I don’t know what they are striving for. I think it should be four guys hanging out talking hoops, but now it’s none of my business" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/27). SI.com's Deitsch, ahead of the start of the NBA season tomorrow, "invited four avid NBA watchers" -- SI.com's Matt Dollinger, Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer, longtime NBA writer Holly MacKenzie and SI's Phil Taylor -- to speak on a number of TV-related topics. The topics included who is the best national play-by-play announcer and whether Bill Simmons is likeable on "NBA Countdown" (SI.com, 10/25).
UPDATE ON RAMSAY'S HEALTH: Ramsay, who has battled cancer several times in the past decade, said he is "doing well" in dealing with his latest health issue, which he declined to disclose. Ramsay: "I am doing well within the limits. My doctors expect me to be around a while" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/27).
Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime on Saturday announced that they have "consolidated their final three boxing cards of the year into two loaded quadrupleheaders and took the Dec. 14 card headlined by the Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana welterweight title fight off pay-per-view and moved it to the regular network," according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. Broner-Maidana "will headline a network quadrupleheader" at the Alamodome. Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza said, "We have a pay-per-view (worthy) event, but we're charging nothing for it. It will be produced just like a pay-per-view and it will still have its own 'All Access.'" Espinoza added that with the holidays approaching, the "main reason for moving the card off pay-per-view was the time of year." Espinoza: "Any other time of year we would have gone on pay-per-view. The calendar was the only thing that made us hesitant to put it on pay-per-view. This is the right way to end the year. Great matchups, competitive fights, and it's going to be all action" (ESPN.com, 10/26).
FREE SWINGING: Bellator and Spike officials said that with Tito Ortiz withdrawing with a neck injury from his scheduled Nov. 2 PPV bout against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, the event "will now be free." Bellator Chair & CEO Bjorn Rebney on Friday said that Bellator 106 "will transition to Spike TV for a three-hour block" (MMAWEEKLY.com, 10/25). On Long Island, Mark La Monica noted the event "was to be the first pay-per-view event for Bellator, and the first fight in the promotion for Ortiz and Jackson" (NEWSDAY, 10/26).
ESPN’s digital properties in September generated 72.7 million unique visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform ratings, the largest total ever in the history of the category. In addition to vaulting past usual sports category reach leader Yahoo for the top spot during the month, ESPN added nearly 15 million visitors from its August total to set the new record. Company execs credited the spike to the start of football, increased fantasy football participation, the continued growth of WatchESPN and the ongoing rise of mobile consumption. Still, company execs as they have for years put more stock in its consumption metrics, including 7.3 billion minutes of time spent by users on ESPN digital properties during the month. That figure is more than 40% higher than the 5.1 billion minutes of consumption for ESPN during August. “Seventy-three million uniques is great, but 7.3 billion minutes is staggering,” said ESPN VP/Digital Media Research & Analytics David Coletti.
In Orlando, Josh Robbins reported the Magic and FS Florida have "finalized a 10-year contract extension" that will make the net the team’s local TV rights holder through the '25-26 season. Sources said that the Magic "will rank among the top quarter of NBA teams in local television revenue." Team officials "never negotiated with other potential networks because they were still in their exclusive negotiating window" with FS Florida. But Magic CEO Alex Martins said that the team "considered forming" its own RSN. Martins: "We studied it extensively" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/26).
PAST MY BEDTIME: FS1 chose to start Saturday's Washington-Cal college football game at 8:06pm PT, and UW AD Scott Woodward said of the late kickoff, "It's frustrating as heck. ... There are four, five games a year (in the Pac-12) that they can go to 8 o’clock with, and unfortunately they drew us. And it’s frustrating. It’s tough on our fans. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but it will be addressed and talked about (before) the next television contract. But, that being said, that’s why they’re paying us a big premium -- for those eyeballs late at night" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/27). ESPN has aired one UW game in a late-start time slot this season, with the Washington-Stanford game on Oct. 5 beginning at 7:41pm PT. FS1 also had a 7:00pm start for Boise State-Washington on Aug. 31 (THE DAILY).
A RAW DEAL? In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported SiriusXM on Friday fired Mad Dog Sports Radio host Dino Costa, an "incredibly dumb move by people who have reduced some of their talkies to antidotes for insomnia." SiriusXM execs "never understood they had a singularly unique personality" in Costa. He said, "I have zero regrets. Hopefully the next time SXM runs into a talent such as myself they’ll know how to go about promoting that talent and maximizing the skills of a guy like me" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/27).